Horizontal wood paneling is in vogue again, after the unfortunate faux wood-grain varieties that made it less than desirable. But people are updating the look, using salvaged materials and creamy painted finishes, for a fresh interior surface.
There are a few directions one can take. For a more sophisticated, traditional, and slightly country aesthetic, smaller tongue and groove panels painted a soft matte white or beige works nicely. For more modern, rustic flair, large rectilinear oak or pine panels finished with a clear stain seems to be the way to go. People who love and respect wood have had success using salvaged planks, and refinishing them in unobtrusive ways.
In addition to these contemporary takes on the process, many people are actually restoring the original shiplap that came with older houses. Typically, shiplap refers to wood planks attached to the two by four studs that were used as interior walls before they invented sheet rock. Homeowners are now embracing the originality of this architectural convention.
It's clean, simple, and, depending on the materials you use, can be affordable. The need for tons of artwork is eliminated, and whatever you do choose to hang on your wall is highlighted all the more. Here are some examples of horizontal paneling used in various environs.
Images: As credited above.